Cyrille Aimee Live
Review by Willard Manus

The effervescent jazz vocalist Cyrille Aimee returns with her third Mack Avenue release, CYRILLE AIMEE LIVE. It was reocrded last year at New York’s Le Poisson Rouge and features the French-Dominican-American singer in a festive mood as she joyously interprets songs by Stephen Sondheim, Michael Jackson, Thelonious Monk and Alex Stordahl, to name a few.

Aimee, who was born in France and was strongly influenced by gypsy music, embraces freedom, joie de vivre and exploration as a performer. She swings, croons, belts and scats, all the while communicating closely with the audience, enjoying their response as much as they enjoy her stylings. There’s a lot of call and response on this album, with the audience clapping and singing along with her (especially on the spirited Michael Jackson medley and the crowd-pleasing Monk tune, “It’s Over Now, Well, You Needn’t”).

Aimee also sings several ballads, the most moving of whihch was Sidney Bechet’s heartfelt tribute (in French) to his mother. Aimee also did an exquisite job on “Each Day,” a love song co-written with her guitarist/partner, Michael Valeanu.

The latter has led Aimee’s band for the past decade. Successful as this group has been, AIMEE LIVE marks the last time it will work together. As the singer explains in a press note, she is moving from Brooklyn to New Orleans “to find new inspirations and a new energy. I feel like you always have to search further, and that’s what I constantly try to do.”